Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'It’s truly a circus of mammoth proportions, and we’re just about at the point where the wheels come off this clown car of a process...'

Our panel of Latics experts assess the situation ahead of another 'D-Day' - when the Spanish bidders' second exclusivity is due to expire - and ask whether it's not time to open the floor for others...

Friday, 20th November 2020, 10:09 am
Updated Friday, 20th November 2020, 10:10 am
The DW Stadium

Paul Middleton:

The takeover is like an episode of EastEnders, but without quite so many laughs. The Spanish bidders are in the last day of their exclusivity extension, despite them making the right noises and having a letter of recommendation from La Liga. I mean, is that even a thing? For all we know, La Liga could be a backstreet Tapas bar in Lower Ince. Unless the EFL are really trying to teach us some sort of lesson, it’s a puzzle as to why it is all still going on. But, should it all go wrong, we have more bidders in the pipeline. We have Darren ‘IEC Will Be Great for Wigan Athletic’ Royle in partnership with Ray Ranson (Google it, kids) and some mystery backer waiting to step in. We also have another mystery Far East buyer, fronted by a Wigan man who is a confirmed rugby and Chelsea fan, and who is currently airing all his dirty family laundry on Facebook. Like I said, it’s a soap opera, and not a very good one. But it just couldn’t be any more Wigan. The Wigan/Far East interest have been making noises about putting a ton of money into Latics and the wider borough, and getting us back to the Premier League. Are they serious? We may never find out. Or we may. But probably not. Unless we do. A concern for some ‘Tics fans is that Ian Lenagan is rumoured to be sniffing around the bid. I have no idea if that’s true, and it’s as likely to be unfounded fears as not. It’s truly a circus of mammoth proportions and, unless things progress quickly, we’re just about at the point where the wheels come off this clown car of a process. I’m really, really weary with it all, if I’m honest. I’d like answers, and will be looking to get some in the coming days. But it feels like the fans are having to make assumptions based on the available information – and are then criticised for coming to the wrong conclusions. Here’s the thing, lads...if nobody tells us anything, this is exactly what will continue to happen. Don’t blame us if things get misinterpreted or are just downright wrong. It’ll be your own fault. So, for the umpteenth time, we hurry up and wait. Today is exclusivity expiry day for the Spanish bid. Either it ends or it gets extended yet again while we all wait for the EFL to do their job. It’s like they’ve forgotten all about us. Wiganers have long memories, and the antics of Rick Parry et all won’t be easily forgotten. The next time we win a division title, and we will, it’s probably best if they just put the trophy in the post.

Caddy from the 5:

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In this week’s installment of ‘The Real Life of Wigan Athletic’ there’s a new character causing a stir at the DW and it’s all kicking off on social media... Enter the fray Tony Frampton,the exiled Wiganer who’s allegedly riding in on his white horse, and putting a bid together to save his hometown club, telling anyone who’ll listen on Twitter his plans for the ‘Tics. Whether this is all legit and genuine is open to your own interpretation but, let’s face it, we’re all really watching it for the subsequent family fall-out that’s surfaced on Facebook. So why has Mr Frampton surfaced almost six months after we went into administration. Why now, why not back then? It’s a fair question, supposedly he and his partners don’t like the way the Spanish are moving with their bid and are ready to blow it out the water. I for one won’t be going all Joel Tomkins and getting over-excited just yet though, we’ve heard it all before. Our great friends from Begbies – well maybe yours – have extended the deadline AGAIN for the Spanish for some reason or another until Friday, and it really is tiresome now for the fans. What’s the hold-up? If the bid’s not right, let’s move on. We’ve basically been told from the new year we’ve no money left, so let’s just get something done one way or another. Back to the on-pitch activities, and let’s hope the managerless ‘Tics can start playing with some freedom now John Sheridan has taken his brand of football to Swindon...unlucky lads! Anyway, tune in next week to see if Gary Roberts really is Paul Cook’s son, and is it really Brenda Spencer in the shower back to save us... Anyway, I need a ‘Bow. UP THE TICS!

Statto:

Well the EFL are still dragging their heels over the Spanish bid, make of that what you will. We now have another potential owner waiting in the wings who, by what little we know about him, could be described as 'interesting'. The bid itself looks too good to be true. I’m staying cautious of it, but the family bickering on social media is great entertainment in the meantime. I see Mr Sheridan has had a good start at Swindon, and didn’t forget to pack his book of excuses for the media down there. He certainly won’t be missed here. We’re back in action against a struggling Oxford team this weekend, and hopefully the break has done us good. Here’s to a good performance and much-needed win. Stay safe.

Matthew Auffrey:

We’re approaching the end of our extended break from first-team football, and it’s evident Latics fans found a variety of ways to occupy themselves during the competition hiatus. We chose from a healthy menu of Nations League matches for viewing – some of which produced exhilarating results. Many of us watched ex-Latics Max Power and Will Grigg score goals, concede penalties, and miss tap-ins during last weekend’s Sunderland match that was broadcasted internationally. There was also quite a bit of activity for the newly-appointed Swindon-scoreboard-watchers to digest as John Sheridan got off to a less-than-stellar start as the new manager of our League One foes. If any Latics fans went into a week-long hibernation during our break from play and reawoke recently, it may have seemed like no time had passed at all. We are still in administration and the EFL has still not approved our takeover from the Spanish consortium. The news of emerging back-up bids has made waves across social media channels over the past week and has prompted some to jump ship from the ‘Spanish Armada’. Our prospective back-up options include the mention of familiar figures, such as Darren Royle, along with characters whose personal baggage has made a much stronger first impression among Latics fans than their own personal net worth. I’ve taken the position of optimism towards our prognosis for new ownership and continue to keep my fingers crossed that the EFL’s investigation pans out in favor of the Spanish in a very timely matter. If this past week has confirmed anything, it is that Wigan Athletic is still a desirable commodity to potential investors. Our history, our facilities, our Academy structure, our cleared debts, our geographic location, and even the league we play in are all deemed as valuable assets to an individual or party who are looking for a stable long-term investment with the potential of a great return. The Spanish group has conveyed those exact intentions and, at this point, we have to take their word as time is on the verge of being exhausted. Our return to League One action greets us with home fixtures against Oxford and Bristol Rovers, both of whom could describe their recent form as average, at best. Regardless of how many senior players we can have return to full fitness for Saturday’s contest, I am eager to see how the performance of the team shifts in the absence of Sheridan. Knowing we can utilise five substitutes off the bench, I’m hoping we can produce and sustain a higher level of energy on the pitch that forces our opponents into making mistakes and creates more scoring opportunities for Latics. As a club we are desperate for positive momentum. A point-producing result of any kind against Oxford would indicate progress. A clean sheet would be phenomenal. Scoring a few goals on top of that would have us over the moon. We’ve been given a break from competition and have taken advantage of that time to rest. Now it’s time to create our own breaks on the pitch, and continue to hope the rest will work itself out very soon.

Martin Holden:

It’s turned into a massive game of “who blinks first” - on one side we have the EFL who are clearly in turmoil over the Spanish bid and on the other side we have Begbies, who put forward the Spanish bid but probably wish they hadn’t now. Neither will back down, both want to save face and in the middle, we have our club falling apart by the week. It’s yet another twist in a really complicated couple of months for the club. Of course, once a few weeks had gone by and no approval had been granted, the vultures started to circle, and apparently, we now have a whole group of absolutely fantastic other bidders who are promising schools, housing, and millions of pounds worth of investment. How long this charade can continue for is anyone’s guess, but at least we had one glimmer of light with the departure of (in my opinion) the worst manager the club has ever had, and I have seen some over the years. It was a crazy appointment in the first place and there will be few fans who will be unhappy to see him go. At least the players will now have someone who has their backs and interests at heart rather than a dull, uninspiring figurehead throwing them under the bus at the first opportunity. Good riddance. There will be more twists and turns before the story has finished and probably lots more intrigue after that but for now, we just need something to happen, both on the field, but mainly up at EFL headquarters in Preston. Fingers crossed for a post-Sheridan bounce this weekend.

Sean Livesey:

Where to start? In the strange world of Wigan Athletic this has to be one of the strangest weeks yet. Despite there being no action on the pitch there’s been plenty of drama off it. Honestly where to start? I’ll try in the short space I have but any sort of summary could stretch to the size of a decent paperback spy thriller. With no definitive decision on our prospective Spanish owners, the rumour mill has been churning at an untold rate of knots. This is natural, a takeover deal where we were told there were no problems envisaged and that it would be completed in 2-3 weeks is currently heading in to its eighth week and rather than the administrators being out by the end of October as stated by Gerald Krasner we’re looking at still being in administration at Christmas. A situation that was wholly unimaginable back in the summer. So what could possibly be holding up the takeover by our prospective Spanish owners? Well there’s been plenty of speculation but no concrete information. This speculation involves potential salary cuts and redundancies, unworkable business plans, potential issues surrounding the lease of the DW Stadium and as a result the rent due to the new owners from Wigan Warriors. Without seeing the business plans it’s very difficult to form any real opinion. All we have to go on is Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo and his interview in the Wigan Observer last week, and it sounds a very sensible approach to our future. But of course they are only words and something has been flagged up by the EFL checks, whether that is surrounding the business plan or something else we’re not yet privy to. In this void created by a lack of a firm decision by the EFL first came the rumours of a potential return for Darren Royle, with backing from former Manchester City and Newcastle defender Ray Ranson. A Ray Ranson incidentally born and raised up the East Lancs in St Helens. Those rumours are now seemingly accepted as fact that if this bid fails the administrators will look to progress with Royle and Ranson.

Ranson is a successful British businessman and has fronted numerous consortia that have missed out on purchasing the likes of Manchester City, Aston Villa and Spurs in recent years. Despite what happened in the summer this bid sounds like it could have some merit to it and indeed it’s two people who know the club inside out and the local area. How welcome Royle would be at the DW Stadium following what happened with Au Yeung and Choi I’m not sure, but frankly compared to the alternative (of being wound up) I’d take him every day of the week – with a heavy dose of sceptisim. There were said to be three or four bidders pouring over the books before the Spanish were granted exclusivity and we received a bit more information on that front this past weekend, and when I say a bit more I mean a lot more. In the world of social media half-truths and anecdotal evidence can often take on a life of its own and before you know it the rumour becomes fact. For the last few weeks certain Latics fans on twitter had referenced a locally backed bid that would blow the Spanish out of the water. The sort of locally-backed bid that if made in the summer could have stopped a whole lot of heartache and worry. This without any firm proof was of course dismissed by the majority, but over the weekend it transpired that there was some truth to the rumours. Though the story behind it and the players in this mysterious bid would leave Sherlock scratching his head. A man called Tony Frampton appeared on Twitter over the weekend, with a username called ‘Saviour 696’, he confirmed a number of stories and rumours that was later confirmed (again on Twitter) by administrator Paul Stanley. A number of Latics fans had been contacted by a UK based intermediary of the aforementioned Frampton to raise awareness of his bid, hence the rumours that had been doing the rounds for a couple of weeks before the wider fanbase knew anything about it. So who is this Frampton you may ask? Well he’s a Far East-based ex-pat from Wigan, who emigrated in the early 80’s. He’s a director of a commodities trading and logistics company, fronted by one Alistair Sean Jeffries. Following so far? Well it seems Mr Jeffries had been interested in purchasing Sunderland, but walked away from that deal earlier this year and turned his attentions towards us thanks to Frampton. The Wigan Post reported the bid that would apparently see a large body of investment not just in the club but the town itself, with new hospitals and schools listed alongside the wish list that every Wiganer could imagine. As good as it all sounds I’m sceptical, for one the Spanish bid is still favourite as it has been lodged with the EFL with a substantial deposit placed on the club with Begbies. But the offer from Frampton/Jeffries (if an official offer has been lodged) may sound too good to be true. There’s also the fact that we had never heard from Frampton or Jeffries prior to the last couple of weeks, so where have they been over the last few months as his home town club suffers? Not to mention why are his loyalties clearly to Chelsea and Wigan Warriors (if his social media profile is anything to go by).

It’s yet another twist in a never ending road full of twists. We’re now at the mercy of the EFL, we either progress with the bid from Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo and his group or we don’t. The Spanish group’s exclusivity period has been extended to Friday (November 20) and it surely can’t be extended again. If no firm decision if forthcoming from the EFL, then the administrators simply need to move on to the next interested party. The club simply can’t last much longer in this state. Be that next party Royle and Ranson or these mysterious Wigan/Hong Kong mega bidders, we simply need to get new ownership into Wigan Athletic. For every week that passes, we’re simply suffering more than you could ever imagine. At least we’ve a return to action to look forward to on Saturday. I hold no ill feeling to John Sheridan, a man doing a difficult job blind folded. But I do wonder how much of a connection he had with his players, especially after how he reacted during extra time against Chorley and how he threw young players under the bus. I’ll be interested to see how we react with Leam Richardson and Gregor Rioch back in charge on Saturday.